Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Tall Girl Teaches: All Eyes On Us

52 eyes are on you. You've got 10 minutes to go before the end of class. And you've got nothing. You are the star of this show, but now it's time to bring on the extra.

The extra. The small, but crucial role. A movie with no extras would be noticeably empty.

what would this scene be without extras? just two guys hanging off a fence.
And a class without extras would be noticeably silent. Or noticeably crazy. The extra is a time-filling activity. All teachers need them. Most have them. And the best have extras that are meaningful and engaging. Here are ten goodies my colleagues and I use:

Simon Says. You can swap "Simon" for whatever character or person you're learning about. I just did "Jack" says after our unit on Jack and the Beanstalk. You can incorporate new verbs and silly actions. Students can take over. This is an oldie but a goodie. A real, real goodie. Are they wild? Just start the game. Tada! All eyes on you.

Q & A. You'll need a soft ball or something you can throw. You throw the whatever (I have a beanie baby moose) to a student, and ask them a question. They can ask you the same one back, or think up one of their own. Make the questions more fun than "what's your favourite colour?" Try things like: what's the best band, the best place to go for pizza, what animal would you like to be and why, what superpower would you like to have, etc.

Guess who, classroom edition. The students have to guess which classmate (or famous person) you're thinking of by asking questions. Focus on word order, adjectives and listening (no repeated questions allowed). If you have a "mean" group, beware. Set guidelines so no one gets their feelings hurt!

you want this... (source)
The Circle of Life. This one can be incorporated into your weekly routine, but it's also a good filler. You sit in a circle. The kids get to say one thing that's important to them. It could be something they're doing on the weekend, a good mark, a difficult test, a hard time with a friend. Establish some  ground rules first - no telling other peoples' news! This is a good way to get to know your students and to develop a sense of community in the classroom.

Class novels. Bring in some age-appropriate stories. The class picks one, and you read it aloud to them, bit by bit, over time. This is a good way to engage kids with books. Because books are cool. You can use the story as a starting point for other activities or just let it stand alone.

Collective writing. Write the first sentence to a story on a paper (Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night...) and give it to a student. They must write the second line, and fold the paper so that your line is covered. They pass it on, the next student writes a line and covers up the previous one. After everyone has written a line, read the story together. Make corrections as a class. You can set a goal - everyone has to use two adjectives, the sentences must be in the past simple, etc., to guide the writing.

Pen pals. Pick a topic. Students use the theme and have a set amount of time to write a letter, to you or to a pen pal in their class. This is a good "beginning of the year" activity you can use to connect with your students and find out what interests them. Write about your favourite hobby, your dream day, the best pet, your future self. Pick the topic according to what you're working on in class.

not this... (source)
Video clips. If you have a tech-friendly classroom, a video clip every once in a while is fine. Make a list of age- and school- appropriate videos and questions to go with them. If you finish a lesson early, you've got an engaging activity ready to go. This one is my all-time favourite, the kids are a little scared, in a good way, by this one,  and this one has a really good message.

Lyrics training. Again, you'll need a computer and a projector, and you'll have to listen to the songs and watch the videos before-hand, but this is a class-pleaser for sure.

A repeating song. I like the Moose song, the Princess Pat and Walking in the Jungle. They're great, because you can teach them bit by bit, depending on how much time you have, and you don't need any materials. They come in handy for those five minutes before recess or lunch, when the kids are getting restless, or for at the end of the day when no one wants to practise the difference between there is/ there are anymore.

Did I miss any really great extras? Let me know!

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